It doesn’t have to be all beaches and boats. For an alternative Grecian experience, take the train inland from Athens to Kalambaka, the end of the line west. A short taxi ride to Kastraki village brings you to the heart of the spectacular Meteora region, famous for the monasteries impossibly perched on top of the dramatic rocky outcrops.
Stay at the modest but charming Doupiana House hotel and wonder at the stunning sights from the veranda. But don’t stop there, get walking and follow the winding road up to the highest monastery for the cheapest and most rewarding journey you’ll ever make.
Doupiani House, Kastraki (nearest station Kalambaka)
The best and cheapest way from Athens airport to Piraeus, where all the ferries go from, is the E96 bus. It departs every 15 minutes from airport arrivals, direct to the ferry quay. €3.50 (The Metro is interesting but you have to change at Monastiraki)
Budget (or indeed any) travellers to Greece should look out for evening 'summer cinemas' where locals sensibly sit outside to watch films, rather than sweat it out inside. They're also great value (although you might want to spray yourself with insect repellent first). The most spectacular has to be the rooftop Cine Paris right in the historic centre of Athens where the action on screen has to compete with the magnificent view of the Parthenon. Wonderful.
Plaka Square, Athens
We stumbled across this lovely restaurant when wandering the back streets in the old Venetian quarter of Chania and ended up eating there almost every night of our stay.
It's located in what was the plunge pool of an old Turkish bath. Ignore the main courses on the (Greek) menu and go for a selection of the mezedes. There's a huge variety with generous portions at only a few euros each. Our favourites were the horta (steamed wild greens served with olive oil and lemon juice), the favakeftedes (split pea croquettes), and the lovely local sausages.
Two people could happily eat their fill and wash it down with a carafe of local wine for under thirty euros.
49, Zambeliou, Old Town, Chania
Tel : +30 282 109 6080
The only fully sustainable hostel/hotel in Uruguay in the centre of the old city.
Wonderful service and great contacts for the surrounding areas around the city. Great location and a lovely breakfast. US$20 a night. Very recommendable.
In Greece many of the ancient sites are free on Sundays, and also on Ochi Day (28th October). We visited the site of Philippi, north of Kavala, an extensive Greek, Roman and Paleochristian site and were amazed that there was no admission charge.
About 20km North west of Kavala. There are buses and tours from Kavala.
This really is a gem - Rosy's Little Village perched above the sparkling blue sea on the tiny unspoiled island of Agistri, just one hour's ferry from Piraeus. Surrounded by bougainvillaea, oleander and pine trees and only a five-minute stroll from the little port of Skala (10 minutes to Åegina with easy access to other Saronic Islands), this small family run hotel is perfect for anyone seeking the 'real' Greece.
Hospitality is in abundance with Rosy and her family welcoming guests like old friends. The fully air-conditioned rooms, built in traditional Greek village style, all have balconies with sea views - sunrise over Aegina providing the perfect start to each day.
Locally produced organic food and authentic traditional cooking make for the most delicious meals. Swim and snorkel from the private little cove. Bikes and kayaks are provided free for guests. Sailing and water skiing can be arranged with Rosy and Nondas, who will also provide transfer to and from the port on arrival and departure - if you can bear to leave!
Doubles from €45 / family rooms for four persons from €74.
Santorini is a notoriously expensive island, and a Mecca for tour groups. Instead of staying at the overpopulated Oia or Fira, take a 20 minutes drive/bus to Kamari Beach. No mobs of tourists, a noticeable drop in hotel prices, the beach is on your doorstep - and the street facing the beach is filled with delicious tavernas. As one of our waiters put it, in Kamari "the people are friendlier, and the food is better!"
However long or short your visit to Berlin, you must go on at least one of Brewers daily walking tours.
We had only seven days, and as it was the first time we had been, we wanted to see all the historically significant sites as well as the off-the-beaten-track places. We went on two tours because the first all-day Best of Berlin walking tour was so interesting we couldn't wait to go on another!
There is a choice of tours to all parts of Berlin to suit all interests. Both guides we had were so knowledgeable and amusing and had interesting stories about all the places which really opened your mind as well as your eyes to what makes Berlin such an amazing place.
There were frequent stops for photos and lunch both days was excellent;. The tours are incredible value for money and are not to be missed!
A summer fete for kids throughout the summer. They provide everything from African dance workshops to face painting and book libraries. All in Italian, but all very accessible, friendly, a great play park and free!
www.lacittaintasca.it nr Circo Massimo
This simple, spotless accommodation is a hidden gem. The views from each balcony are absolutely magnificent. It is not long before the peace and beauty seeps into your soul. The kind, friendly owners are helpful but unobtrusive.
Hillside Studios, Lassi,Keffalonia
Cost- 40 Euros .Airport- 10 minutes.
We stayed in Hostel Cracow, a charming £13 per night per person hostel in the centre of Krakow. Situated on the stunning Market Square and surrounded by beautiful traditional buildings, the views from the rooms are sublime. Included in this purse friendly price is breakfast, unlimited tea and coffee throughout the day, internet use and lockers (for which the hostel supply padlocks and keys).
The hostel has a comfortable, homely feel, it is bright and airy and spotlessly clean. Reception is manned on a 24 hour basis, the staff are extremely friendly, so don't hesitate to ask them the best places to eat and most interesting places to visit.
Something about Hostel Cracow seems to appeal to everyone; backpackers, elderly couples and families. An absolute gem of a hostel!
Cracow Hostel, The Main Market Square 18, 31-008 Krakow.
I admit that when I arrived at Limnopoula Camping in Ioannina (Epirus, Greece), I was tired and smelly. Any welcome and comfort would have made me ecstatic. What I was not ready for was the best view in Ioannina: forget all the hotels in town, here you can have a ground level lakeside pitch, close enough to the water for the slightly eggy smell of the lake to fill your nose and for the noise of jumping fish to punctuate your sleep like a curiously soothing and spasmodic metronome.
For just €12 I effectively got the best view in town. In the evening I watched the local kayaking club training. Go there and enjoy the historic town, the lake, the mountains and access to the villages of Epirus.
Some pictures attached on my travel blog:
A few minutes north of the old fort and on the edge of the lake
A gem of a boutique hotel in Perissa is on the opposite side of the island to Fira (the capital) and Oia (stunning!) which must be visited by bus - frequent, cheap and very scenic.
The owner Captain Spiros (yes really!) listens to his guests and makes improvements to his hotel accordingly. At around €42 per room per night it is terrific value. Breakfast is light, but more than sufficient with fresh Greek produce. There are lovely views at the back from an attractive garden with pool.
Tavernas in Perissa are many, good and cheap. Fira and Dorian's Pub over the road has a welcoming leafy garden and cheap cocktails and beer.
Flights are with Easyjet from Gatwick.
On the main street into town and 5 mins from the beach.
A small town/large village with hardly any tourists - foreign ones that is. Walk one of the several paths up Mount Olympus or take the 15 minutes bus ride to the beach for €2.5 return where you can spend the day with the Greeks on a sunbed with umbrella for the price of a drink.
In the Hotel Mirto, just down from the main square, which is clean and comfortable if a little unexciting, you can get B&B with views of the mountains from your balcony for €30.
Take a cheap flight to Thessaloniki - Easyjet go there on Fridays - and then a bus goes every hour from the Makedonia bus station to Litohoro for €8.
Escape from the hustle of Athens and stay in the village of Amaliapolis for a few days. You won’t find many foreign tourists there, but its fish tavernas serve the freshest fish priced for local holiday makers (no tourist rip off prices here). If you want an even cheaper, but delicious, meal have a ‘souvlaki pitta’ – succulent pieces of lamb wrapped in special pita bread with salad and yoghurt sauce – under €2.
We stayed in a very reasonably priced apartment – plainly furnished but with great views of the twinkling lights of the Pelion villages across the Pagasitic Gulf at night and just short walk to the sandy beach in the morning. Just don’t tell too many people or it could get spoilt!
A traditional wooden chalet style hostel only 10 minutes walk from the train station, with a south facing terrace, and views over the mountains.
Many rooms have en suite toilet and showers and even double beds, but much cheaper that a hotel, and no age barriers. The common room has an open fireplace and wood provided so that guests can make up a fire for themselves in the evening. Large meals are provided by friendly staff, who are also happy to advise on local outings; or you can self-cater. It is a minutes' walk from the bus stop for Bussalp. Bussalp is a sunny south facing mountain where you can hire a sledge and spend the day sliding all the way back down the mountain on special paths to the bus stop and hostel. (The hostel also hires out sledges.) Sledging is an easier and cheaper way of having fun and admiring the scenery than skiing.
Bar Roma is a great little Italian cafe in the City Centre.
Great pasta dishes, good coffee and an authentic cafe feel. The prices are fantastic too, with some great value meal deals available in the afternoons.
Not open in the evening.
11 Halford St
0116 251 5959
(5 minutes from Leicester BR)
Go for chabakia in the foodmarket on the Djemaa el fna. It's the only cake I've had the pleasure of encountering that you have to dunk into your bean soup. Such dunking is compulsory, and livens up an otherwise boringly healthy dish no end. We were reliably informed that chabakia is made of flour, rolled in lots of honey and sugar, and then fried, which sounds much more believable than it being starfish, as we first thought (not such a startling assumption as we were surrounded by diners merrily tucking into sheeps' heads and giant snails). It's the perfect, sticky cake to chew on while you give away your tourist credentials by drinking mint tea sans sucre and arguing with your boyfriend about whether or not to buy a Moroccan toy drum.
Djemaa el fna at the bean soup stall
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org